What is the purpose of UMD Seminar?

UMD Seminar facilitates the successful transition into college learning and student life at UMD.

UMD Seminar is a course designed to assist students in making a successful transition to UMD. It is an introduction to the academic, social, cultural, and personal opportunities that UMD can offer. Students will examine who they are, explore who they are becoming at UMD, and begin thinking about how their UMD experiences will affect their lives and the world around them after they graduate. UMD Seminar requires both practical and reflective learning, where students are encouraged to focus on how the course material applies to their unique experience as a new UMD student. The course will help students achieve success in their educational and life goals by making personal connections, laying the foundation for lifelong learning, and participating in diverse communities. It is an invitation to possibilities.

What is UMD Seminar like?

UMD Seminar is a one-to-two credit University-wide orientation course. This course was developed to help new students with their transition into the university community. Topics addressed in this course include connecting to campus, healthy college living, time management, study strategies, career/major exploration, academic planning, goal-setting, critical thinking and other topics that help first-year students succeed academically, personally and socially.

Sections of UMD Seminar are limited to 25 students, and each section promotes discussion and active learning about topics important to new students. The small class size and active discussions provide opportunities for students to form connections with their instructor, teaching assistant, and fellow students.

The course instructors are current UMD faculty and staff who work closely with new students and have a desire to provide meaningful support and outreach to them. Students will receive practical experience and timely information which is based on new student needs and developmental stages. Course instructors work in partnership with an UMD Seminar Teaching Assistant.

UMD Seminar Teaching Assistants play an important role in UMD Seminar courses. Each section of UMD Seminar has a teaching assistant who works closely with the instructor and the students in the class. Teaching assistants are current UMD undergraduates. Before working with an UMD Seminar section, they interview and take a 1-credit training course. UMD Seminar TAs help teach lessons, provide feedback on assignments, communicate with students in the class, meet with the instructor, and generate a welcoming, helpful environment for students.

What are the UMD Seminar Goals?

The UMD Seminar goals have been linked to UMD’s student learning outcomes (SLOs) and are as follows.

  • Explore the differing expectations and demands between secondary and higher education (SLO: 2, 5, 9)
  • Introduce tools, skills, and resources necessary for UMD success (SLO: 2, 9)
  • Help new students feel welcome at UMD by making it easy to meet people and form connections (SLO: 8, 9)
  • Engage students in respectful conversations with individuals who have different perspectives (SLO: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9)
  • Guide students on the journey of self-exploration as they begin to discover what is important to them (SLO: 2, 4, 5, 8, 9)
  • Help students evaluate options to make responsible decisions (SLO: 2, 3, 4, 9)

What are the Learning Outcomes?

  • Transfer academic and life skills
  • Access campus resources in planning for academic, social, and personal success in college
  • Get involved on campus and meet people
  • Appropriately and effectively communicate in various contexts
  • Acknowledge that people approach the world from different perspectives
  • Explore who they are and who they want to become
  • Think reflectively
  • Recognize that making decisions involves weighing the benefits and consequences of possible options

Who takes UMD Seminar?

The short answer: most new students! UMD Seminar is required of students in the following UMD colleges:

  • Labovitz School of Business and Economics
  • College of Education and Human Service Professionals
  • School of Fine Arts
  • College of Liberal Arts

At your Advisement & Registration session you'll receive more information about the UMD Seminar course. Your faculty advisor and student advisor will both talk with you about options for taking the UMD Seminar course and will help you register.

What are the options for taking UMD Seminar?

Students admitted for the spring term will sign up for a general one-credit UMD Seminar section during their first (spring) semester. Students admitted for the fall term have a number of options for UMD Seminar. Talk with your advisors at Advisement & Registration to find out more. Possibilities include one- and two-credit sections tailored to specific topics or special populations of students, such as students in certain undergraduate colleges or majors or students participating in learning communities through the residence halls. While the content of the course is the same as other sections, the examples and information is tailored to the unique topic or needs of the population of students enrolled in the course.

How would I become a Teaching Assistant?

Are you interested in becoming an UMD Seminar Teaching Assistant? The hiring process for UMD Seminar teaching assistants occurs in February or March of all academic years after students complete the TA training course during early spring semester. If you are interested in being an UMD Seminar TA, contact the Office for Students in Transition front desk (sit-info@d.umn.edu), 42 Solon Campus Center, 218-726-6393

Who is the UMD Seminar Coordinator?

Dr. Samantha DeVilbiss began working as UMD Seminar Coordinator in June 2014. Prior to joining the UMD community, Samantha has devoted years towards assisting first-year students in their transition to college at the University of Iowa, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Florida Gulf Coast University.

At the University of Iowa, Samantha worked in Orientation Services, with both the student program and the parent program; taught a college transition course for new students; and examined first-year living learning communities to enable programmatic improvements. At the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Samantha served as a coordinator and advisor in a first- and second-year retention program. In this position, Samantha was able to support a caseload of students; plan and implement academic, life-skill, social, and recognition programming; and oversee peer mentoring for all first-year students in the community as well as run a program for students on academic probation. At Florida Gulf Coast University, Samantha advised first-year students and served on the Academic Advising Council, supervised peer advisors, provided programming to assist students in choosing a major, and taught a course related to the institution’s mission of sustainability.

Samantha earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in the fields of History, Anthropology, Education, and Museum Studies. Her MA was also earned at the University of Iowa in Student Development in Post-Secondary Education. Samantha completed her EdD in the department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, with her dissertation – The Transition Experience: Understanding the Transition From High School to College for Conditionally-Admitted Students Using the Lens of Schlossberg’s Transition Theory. She is thrilled to be at UMD working with UMD Seminar to help ensure the course is best meeting the needs of new students and is a program of which the campus community can be proud!

What is the UMD Seminar Advisory Group?

The UMD Seminar Advisory Group was established in academic year 2013/2014 to explore UST 1000 in context of the purpose, history, best practices, and research associated with first-year seminar courses across the country. The group is working to produce a report in February 2015 with recommendations of changes that can be made to UMD Seminar in order to ensure it is a model program, designed to assist new students at UMD through their academic, social, and personal transitions to college.


  • Dr. Jane A.K. Carlson, Associate Professor & Associate Department Head of HPER
  • Dr. Samantha DeVilbiss, Coordinator, UMD Seminar Coordinator & New Student Program Initiatives, Students in Transition
  • Kurt Guidinger, M.A., Academic Advisor, Labovitz School of Business and Economics
  • Dr. Paul Kiprof, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Shelly Mann, M.S., Assistant Academic Advisor, College of Liberal Arts
  • Elias Mokole, MFA, Instructor, Department of Music
  • Dr. Jerry Pepper, Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education
  • Lisa Reeves, M.Ed., Director, Students in Transition
  • Dr. Roger Reinsch, Professor, Department of Accounting
  • Dr. Katie Van Wert, Assistant Professor, Department of English
  • Dr. Liz Wright, Associate Professor, UMD Writing Studies

UMD Seminar Advisory Group Report

In February 2015, the Advisory Group provided a full report, complete with recommendations for moving forward with UMD Seminar, to the Campus Curriculum Subcommittee (CCS). After reviewing the report, the CCS put forward recommendations to the UMD Faculty Council.

UMD Seminar Advisory Group Report